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On What Happened This Week & What’s Ahead

Dear Grace,

We are reeling from the unjust killing of George Floyd. As I write this, I don’t know what will happen tonight. Will there be more violence and destruction that are displacing the important voices of peaceful protest? Will there be even more obliteration of neighborhoods and livelihoods of people of color and indigenous people? Lord, have mercy. May God bring strength to you if are directly impacted because of the color of your skin or the work that you do. We are here for you.

I want you to know that on Wednesday evening, a group of Grace folks lamented and prayed, and wondered how God is calling us to act. There’s some good energy for our congregation to do something big. If you want to join the conversation, let me know. We’ll plan a time for a Zoom conversation, and figure out the next right thing to do.

We’re dealing with two pandemics at the same time. The respiratory virus, and the virus of racism and white supremacy that has infected us since 1619. We pray for deliverance from both.

There are more things you need to know that impact our life together:

Last Saturday, Governor Walz announced a compromise with the Catholic church, which led to provisions for worship gatherings in church buildings, at 25 percent capacity. At the same time, he urged all congregations that could do so, to continue with current ministry in digital spaces, and to keep gatherings at 10 people.

What does this mean for us? Our leadership has agreed to continue to follow the guidance of our bishop, our presiding bishop, and state health officials, and not open our sanctuary for larger gatherings. We do this out of love for neighbor and care for those who are most vulnerable.

We are working to create additional opportunities for Grace people to practice faith and support one another. One next step includes Grace becoming a network of Neighborhood Churches — a group of 10 people who want to connect with God and one another for 30 minutes. Being church in our neighborhoods has never been more important. Not only will people connect, pray, and support one another, but they will also pray for neighbors and seek their well-being. If you’ve been wondering what you can do in the face of all the brokenness, this you can do: You can sit on someone’s driveway and pray for neighbors and seek their well-being. We’re finalizing logistics now. Watch for an opportunity to sign up to be part of a neighborhood church, either on someone’s driveway, backyard, or on Zoom.

Also last Saturday, the Minnesota Department of Health published guidance to help congregations create protocols for building use and worship. The team that’s been working on Grace’s protocol is incorporating items in that directive into our plan. Once it’s finalized and approved by our executive committee, we will be ready to open the sanctuary for individuals and families to pray. Watch for an opportunity to sign up for a time to sit in our quiet, holy space and pray or meditate. Dianna and Karen have been in the sanctuary to “de-Lent-ify” the space and create a safe and holy setting for prayer.

Now that the stay at home order has been lifted, Pastor Michelle and I would like the opportunity to meet you in person. If you feel safe doing so, we invite you to sign up for a time to meet with a group of 10 our less at Grace’s campfire pit. How will it work? Each Wednesday evening, there will be two 30-minute times to say hi and meet one another. Please bring a lawn chair and wear a mask. See that information and sign up below.

I am thankful for the Grace staff who show incredible creativity, endurance, resiliency, and faithfulness. I am grateful for our strong leaders who love God and this congregation, and are stepping up in new ways. I marvel at those who show up for one other each week on Zoom; for those who serve the most vulnerable among us; and for those who teach us to trust God in all things.

God bless you and keep you,

Pastor Deb Stehlin

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